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tv   [untitled]    November 25, 2011 11:30pm-12:00am EST

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welcome back to the big picture i'm tom hartman of washington d.c. coming up in this half hour we'll revisit a conversations with great minds conversation that i had back in february with community to the international executive director of greenpeace and it tells the
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story of his extraordinary life as a human rights activist growing up in apartheid south africa and what changes we need to make starting right now to turn back the tide of global warming and joy. are through his conversations with great minds i'm honored to have joined me kumi naidoo a human rights activist environmentalist road scholar now serves as the international executive director of greenpeace international konya welcome thank you very much very happy to have you here with us to be. the first i'd like to talk about your your early life and what brought you to worry you are now you were you were born and grew up in south africa under apartheid and at the age of fifteen became an
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activist in that country can you tell us about that what that was like and what what motivated you at that young age to get into that. there was that national student uprising in the quality of education and i school students throughout the country these programs together with you know the students to be honest we didn't understand you know the politics of what you're doing for example the slogan the front of the box was that we want the public to see. this little bit because we want the cup. because because kids in white schools had color as you know was it is in fact the most popular sort of it was you pay i would teach is peanuts the one they give us monkey education. and so from. all of these cases because of the state responding with blueprint repression and we were expelled from
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school as a result of. those of us will lead is that actually been kind of enabled one's movement sort of into passionate activism and going forward in. community organizing against the system as well as joining the underground of the liberation movement. what how old were you when apartheid felt. i was in my i was about thirteen and so it was after you left the country no so in one nine hundred eighty expelled from school when i continued to try to finish school by studying from textbooks and so on and then a few teachers you know from our school succumbed i came to our house and teach us one to one so that we could register for like a second chance examination from school teachers were very scared to appear to be
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supporting us those of us with leaders because the depression was so much you know this is the clerk that this was. you know and so. you know the reality of the crime was that we were every weekend at funerals. of friends and activists that were killed we lived with the mentality at that time that you know our lives being lost at any time. you know somebody like me know i was still alive when the still struggling in you know for justice i often think about my life. now it's that i'm living on borrowed time because so many of my close friends and activists even people out of conflict at the struggle here in what they lost their lives. been in one nine hundred eighty six a national state of emergency was declared you know has the resistance was growing stronger and stronger. and i was. the first five.
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charge from you know violating the state of emergency the same thing happened again in eighty six but during this time when absolute tricks of living on the ground and still continuing to organize so for example a look at what's happening in egypt i mean with the site now full with the moderation and pride to see what's happening but it's a sense of deja vu so eventually bill nine hundred eighty seven when i was twenty two i had to flee south africa because i had a code would some of my close activists frames. were already arrested. about how much they knew how much the police knew based on the interrogations and the code because i was studying law and i had finished the first part of floor and i moved on to political science and you to be asked me would you ever go back to law used to say that my late. teens well i do law if i get
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a prison sentence i'll study law in prison and so the news came out to me the prospects for your legal career look pretty promising. idea that you know about underground activity and so i fled the age of twenty two. and and you got a rhodes scholarship because of the funny story because i really didn't know much about what the rhodes scholarship was and so on but i had a very progressive professor and she she came these up and. informs the science while while actually on the run. and in december eighty six i went to cape town. to cape town and for the interview the first time i flew first i was in the hotel. twelve finalists you know for that old scholarship for four ships and i was the
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only black. you know the whole panel was pretty much white. i got asked kristen by the supreme court judge at that time who was the chair for the selection committee now this is still apartheid africa totally south africa whole and not only was it a party it was when the resistance was its peak and you were known to be a part of. and i was i was you know a student leader had a reasonably high profile in my city but not you know a national profile and the question was you know if you had made the minister of education i would you saw a picture creation problem and so was. that with all due respect that's the eve question because that assumes education system is separate from the overall political crisis we have which is the lack of democracy and so on and the thing was i was really lax i never thought it was good it was quite surprised that evening i got the call that i'd been offered the rhodes scholarship which was the seventy six
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so i called my brother and. these people have been stupid if you offer me the scholarship this couple. was so that i did eventually get back to cape town and from cape town to the underground for about four months and eventually i was encouraged by play in some way in prison to get out of the country because they said you know if you get arrested you going to just have a long sentence so i played didn't have much of a seven thought so i'm wondering what your thoughts are. how that transition went what lessons might be learned from the transition including the reconciliation commission. and the current status of. i think that one of the things that's most inspiring about the resistance to dictatorship that we see in the middle east is how committed folks to maintaining
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a peaceful way of actually it was a state. when in fact people have actually when they have even violence on the protests aside it's been very minimal and it's been more in terms of defense in the likes of that and say i do think that you know someone that has inspired leadership. trying to ensure that we understood what we were fighting and what we could not was really helpful because you know as a young activists at the age of fifteen you see things in black and white terms but what is it that you are fighting a war is that that you are not personally at the age of fifteen you're talking about fighting white people. and the white power structure in the white house well what ease you have to actually make a distinction between the people and the system and we're not fighting white people we are fighting a system of rueful institutionalized racism and then you know very soon once i got
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more actively involved i found some of my closest activists friends were actually white south africans and i'm being inclusive i def you know obviously you had to spin it because you know people what do you do with some of the folks might be spies and so on but i also think that the challenge of healing the major major struggle is. and the truth and we can see nation commission process was not perfect it had its weaknesses but he. try to create a enabling environment for healing between a place to actually happen i for example had a close friend. young woman called sunday and was interested in. was kidnapped from swaziland brought to southern africa she had a young child a child then left the child even if left with the rest of the quarter to south
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africa they tortured and the tried to turn into a state agent and she refused and we didn't know what happened to her and actually you know at that time you know paranoia was a big thing for you just because you're paranoid doesn't mean you know. and you know i knew that there's no way she could have sold out i mean she was one of my leaders in a way and we never knew what happened you know it was like just confusion about what happened the little boy was growing up and so on and the person who killed came forward and maybe took in the consolation commission process. and said what happened it was exactly as high as some of the closest friends they tortured her they tried to kill him that this is a deal killer and eventually she said i'm not going to turn kill me i mean i look
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you in the eye with nation me and the bullets went right through the head when the took out the skull from that they took it and. he pointed up with it. and. that means riggs you the bullet was actually right through. you know through the center for it and so but the important thing is. we need to recognize that the people that pull the guns the people who actually execute the violence in the front . often acting on the instructions of people with power people who make the policies and people. so my disappearance was murdered in. something called the night he was murdered. in a ambush with three young women from old city and the person that killed it with the liquor. he. i hold no hate for me because i see him well as much as the because he was acting on the policies of the government and well and
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very often those people themselves are very worried that i had friends who went off to vietnam and came back carrying the burden of having killed people. to the point where they couldn't care whether one committed suicide so we're talking with with coming into the international executive director of greenpeace international we back with more with coming in just a. few .
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what drives the world the fear mongering used by politicians who makes decisions to put it through a bit if you can make who can you trust no one who has you view it with the global machinery see where we had it state controlled capitalism is called fascist when nobody dares to ask we do you are a key question more. and more back in conversations with great minds i'm speaking tonight with human rights activist environmentalist and international executive director of greenpeace international community do you mean. we talked in the first segment about your own personal history in south africa and as. an activist and leader in in a movement against and i just apartheid but unrighteousness or or i lack
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a word you know. why greenpeace how does that translate into greenpeace. know someone who was at least worked what they have volunteered me up with the set up and see if an eagle political parties are prepared for the missions. in the course of the process that you could vote in the freedom struggle was one thing but preparing for thought politics was something quite different and i decided to stay out of the civil society to play in the g.'s and to actually. adult education and nonprofit work and work in the nonprofit work to strengthen civil society and also try to define the relationship between civil society and democratic government because about most of our personal friends although in the cabinet i had so we evolve the cold critical solidarity you know that we and so to have people does that will create a government but we want civil society to be able to have the space to be. so most
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of them for the last ten years i was working at the global the because well the alliance for citizen participation which is looking at strengthening. the role of civil society globally and my focus has been more of the human rights democracy and the poverty activists and make policy but over the last you know between three thousand and five and two thousand and ten all these struggles were coming together and increasingly you couldn't address poverty without understanding how in fact environmental destruction was exacerbating poverty and so on and vice versa and vice versa so i saluted and then i began to do this whole range of volunteer work with them by the mental sector by serving the boards of environmental groups including greenpeace africa but the truth is. pole from the peace where i was. on the nineteenth day on the strike to put pressure on my government in
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south africa to change its support for the occasion for about mugabe in zimbabwe. so the call comes and i say to folks exhibit you on it but the timing is really bad a dispute over what of nineteen days it would have made such a big choice but that evening my daughter. who was fourteen was fourteen at the time called from the from the u.k. she had seen me on b.b.c. and she thought i was looking a bit skeletal so she cautioned that why are you still doing interviews and so on. i'm getting so what do you do so you look so pretty and then i said no darling very holy spirit speaking to you and i spoke to the folks from greenpeace today and she said. what they want to. talk about the strong support they say no bad timing it's that bad i won't talk to you. ever again if you don't at least see this and
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consider this when you finish a strip of hunger strike. from the mouths of babies and then i say right when she said well greenpeace is about the future of this world it's amazing that you know not only talks but takes action and does so peacefully it's it's about my future and i think it was a real shocking conversation in some ways because i didn't realize how concerned she has many other young people about the future because when you talk about you know addressing climate change in the adverting catastrophe. you know it might sound like a jogger but what we're talking about securing the future for children and grandchildren yes you know and and the truth is you know some people get upset it's reasonably to be in place isn't as bad off assertion that you know that's marvelous . how many countries is currently suffering well we in every continent we have physical offices but we actually work in places where we don't have offices as well
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so for example we don't have an on the ground presence in venezuela in colombia but we have a virtual office you know. we have volunteered groups and so on we truly global. you know we have a big office in china with one hundred staff in the problem and number of volunteers and. right now given the. nature of the environmental challenges that we face it's important for us to be truly global you know orientation what what in your opinion is the greatest threat to humanity. well without any doubt the catastrophic climate change is the biggest threat because it threatens the very existence of this planet as we know it notwithstanding the climate denial is funded by the fossil fuel industry by the likes of the koch industries and so on we have contaminated the public debate. it states that reality
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is that the climate science is pretty clear that we have to get emissions to peak as soon close to twenty fifteen and come if we are to construct a carbon change the reality that people need to understand the climate impacts happening now. already about three hundred thousand lives in two thousand and eight so we can we can show the loss that it can. imply that impacts as some elements in the cia and the pentagon could say that in fact the biggest future threats to peace and stability is going to come from climate change and in fact resource was going to be sold off the d. if we don't get this right now i would suggest that we're already have is that we've got food is that the source i mean if you look at the water scarcity you have been i was well i was a go kart charan's on the sort of the sudanese border with star for you know we had the door for him refugees coming across and what this has the immense goods that the young does if acacia and then you add to that it is the discovery of oil down
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the road and the chinese come in and absolutely it's a. great one of the knocks on greenpeace has been that you hear from mostly governments which is the greenpeace doesn't respect national sovereignty the japanese simply quite upset about this a particular with regard to whaling but but many other issues. what's what is your notion or if you'd rather speak as a spokesperson for greenpeace what is the official notion of. what national sovereignty is in and to what extent it has legitimacy and should be respected or shouldn't be or should be challenged for that matter. you know even the united states if there was a slogan that said think globally act locally what was behind it so what was the despicable patients we were trying to place at the national and local level we needed to understand. processes global institutions global discourse global power
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had an impact on what you could or could not achieve at the local or national level however one of the ironies of the moment of history that we're living in is precisely where countries like my own south africa such as the states of the former soviet union were getting a moccasin for the first time the ninety eight in one thousand nine hundred real power was moving from the national to the global a little you know certainly environment around currency management even an issue it's not only does the pandemic not respect borders but lifesaving pharmaceutical drugs is not the pricing it's not the term national level it's determined at the global level through patenting bodies and so on so today if we are to address some of the big challenges that we face we have to address them as global challenges however i would say to many of the governments who say you know we are for national sovereignty and so on that in fact we as greenpeace respect the
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rights of people in the own countries much more than they actually would suggest and therefore today in all the countries we're operating it's people from those countries that. leading our fight so in japan for example people that trial and trial for exposing corruption in waiting to see our japanese colleagues. so i'm very committed to ensure that we build a very diverse presence on the ground in many countries and ultimately will be people from those countries as well as the world really that are putting the pressure on governments to show the urgency the second is as you know politicians know that they have to act president obama for example in every speech that he gave in the election always use the phrase a planet in peril you know you. can get a planet in peril was a crisis consistent so he gets it a lot of the political leadership. no we need to be in peace and other what i think
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that necessary to keep the pressure for them to act with the urgency of the situation so that we can actually secure the future for future generations there's an old. political anecdote or that or for whatever that. one afraid gets large enough going down the street that a politician will jump out in front of the flag and say this is why people are paraded you're creating the parade and the politicians presumably will follow although they will claim that they're leading what what are the what are the major areas where greenpeace is working what are they. not that physical there is i mean if so you know a big challenge is. defending the oceans because. because of overfishing we have destroying the biodiversity in the oceans and we actually. will ensure that certain species would children in future generations will never be able to enjoy at all so it will actually destroy the health of the oceans
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especially when the increase carbon in the which is not being absorbed by the forests and ending in the oceans and turning those are to i should have said because of this in defending our forests. all of these things and into the way to change what if in the forest the photos in the past you know by them in the system in we talk about picking by the city which is important but today we can talk about the for speaking the lungs of the planet and that makes the connection between defending forests and the my view of people who live in the forest but also everybody as you know quite connected but we also do a lot of work six right now. you know we do a lot of work. in the u.s. our coal. and and also we promote incest anable agriculture and remain opposed to genetically modified. foods there those are the main strands
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of our weather is a fascinating study that was just. largely being distributed today about a new micro-organisms century associated genetically modified foods that was a very scary you know one of those in any case in the in the minute or so we have left what is the most important message that has the director executive director of international you what's the carry on message that you want to share with our viewers all of us have to get involved this is not about lying on politicians or activists like myself or you know inspired leaders that this is a life and death struggle all of us need to find ways in which we can participate right now we've got a campaign against facebook to encourage mark zuckerberg and his colleagues to not build a data center that is based on coal fired electricity you can go on to facebook for
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example and send those messages in your own communities get involved in the issues that are around you but most importantly keep the pressure on our political leaders to ensure that we have a. he insists targets to use carbon emissions and to turn climate change into an opportunity we can generate millions of decent jobs in the new green economy that that's two things that it actually helps develop and how it's a spirit in the one in but also addresses the challenges of environment and the other and we all have a choice we can i be part of the solution or part of the problem and silence would be choosing to be part of the parts protect your world part of it coming at you if i thank so much for being.
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that's a big picture of her that i put more information on the stories we covered visit our website to thom hartmann dot com free speech dot org and. also check out our to you tube channels or links of thom hartmann dot com this entire show is also available as a free video podcast on i tunes and we have a free tom hartman i phone an i pad app at the app store he said his feedback and twitter it's all members who are on facebook at all members who are been on our blogs message boards and telephone line all the time having that and don't forget democracy begins when you get out there get active tag your it occupies something.
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